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Showing posts from November, 2006

Problems for the Fine-Tuning Argument

By my lights, the following considerations are sufficient to show that the argument from fine-tuning fails to make theism more likely than not.

There is an equally good, rival explanation of the apparent fine-tuning of our universe. For the fine-tuning for life would be equally well explained if our universe were embedded in a vast “sea” of infinitely many other universes.[1] Imagine a natural process or mechanism that continually generates universes (call it a 'cosmos generator') – perhaps something like a giant quantum field. Each time it pumps out a universe, it gives a random combination of values to its fundamental constants of nature. So on this hypothesis, infinitely many other universes exist – or at least lots and lots – and each one has a different set of values for its fundamental constants. Most of these universes have no life, since only a few possible combinations of values of the constants are life-permitting. But some do (e.g., ours). If so, then the …

Design Arguments: Old and New

The Design Argument

There are two broad forms of the design argument:

1.The Classical (“Old School”) Design Argument:

Paley’s is the most important version of the classical design argument. This version is an argument from analogy. It typically appeals to living organisms and their parts as cases of apparent design. The line of reasoning here can be put as follows:

We come to learn through experience whether an object has been intelligently designed. How do we learn to detect design? Well, over a long course of experience, we notice a constant conjunction of a cause of one type (intelligent designers) producing an effect of a certain type (complex objects whose parts work together to perform a function). Thus, after a while, we no longer have to observe a person designing an object in order to know that the latter has been designed. Rather, we can then legitimately *infer* that, say, a watch was fashioned by an intelligent cause. For we can then justifiably base such an inference …

Outline of the Standard Evangelical Case for the Reliability of the New Testament

I'll probably return to this post a lot to fill in the details and provide explanation, but I just wanted to put something on my blog that provides a way to see the standard case at a glance.

The Reliability of the Orthodox “Portrait” of Jesus according to Evangelicals: The Basic Case[i]

1. From our Current Bibles to the Church Fathers: Textual Criticism
1.1 The Argument from Textual Criticism
1.2 The Argument from Patristic Quotation

“Okay, that gets us back to within a few centuries of the life of Jesus. But how do we know that our information about Jesus wasn’t corrupted prior to that?”

2. From the Church Fathers to the Gospels: The Argument from Patristic Testimony of Apostolic Authorship

“Okay, but the case for apostolic authorship is shaky and widely rejected. Are there other reasons to think that the gospels give us reliable eyewitness testimony about Jesus?”

3. From the Gospels to Their Immediate Sources:
3.1 The Argument from Markan Priority and the Dating of Luke-Acts

Some (Temporarily) Final Thoughts About the Free Will Defense

I'm more than happy to discuss Plantinga's Free Will Defense further with those interested (see previous post), but for now, here's my tentative summary and conclusion on the matter, prefaced with some contextual stage-setting:

A standard way to state the deductive argument from evil is the one we've inherited from Hume in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (who in turn inherited it from Epicurus):

"Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? whence then is evil?"

The reasoning here can be teased out as follows:

1. Evil exists. (Premise)
2. If God exists, then God is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good. (Premise)
3. If God is omniscient and omnipotent, then He is able to prevent evil. (Premise)
4. If God is perfectly good, then He is willing to prevent evil. (Premise)
5. If God is willing and able to prevent evil, then evil does not exist. (Premise)

On the Force of "Possibly" in Plantinga's Free Will Defense (Slightly Revised)

Plantinga construes the key claim in his Free Will Defense as possibly true:

(TWD) Possibly, every creaturely essence suffers from transworld depravity.

According to Plantinga, if a creature suffers from transworld depravity, then *every* God-accessible world (i.e., every world *that God can create*)) is one at which the creature goes wrong at least once.

So if some free creature FC is transworld-depraved, then we have:

1) Necessarily, if God actualizes FC, then FC goes wrong at least once.

And if every creature is transworld-depraved, then we have:

2) Necessarily, for any x, if x is a free creature, then if God actualizes x, then x goes wrong at least once.

If so, then if Plantinga is using "possibly" in (TWD) in the metaphysical sense (as in (1)), then (TWD) amounts to:

3) Possibly, it's necessary that for any x, if x is a free creature, then if God actualizes x, then x goes wrong at least once.

But Plantinga accepts S5 modal logic. If so, then he accepts the following axiom…